One Last Sports Festival

I’m sure many of my posts from here on out are going to start with “Well this will be the last _____.”  It’s inevitable, it is my final year teaching Japan through the JET Programme.

September had the wonderful weather Minnesota had during the summer so I had no complaints during my Wednesday school’s sports festival.  Compared to my other school’s sports festival, this one is more mellow and smaller due to the fact that we’re out in the countryside and I don’t have as many students in this area.  It’s also why I like it a lot; I can see all of the action with no trouble at all.

Out of four times I have been at this sports festival, I would say this year was probably my favorite.  For awhile, the events at this festival were a bit stale because they always did the same ones.  This year though, had a ton of different new, creative events that were fun to watch. My favorite one was this triathalon of silly courses involving blowing a balloon up only to pop it by sitting on it, spinning your head around a bat several times, etc.  One of my poor students could not blow the balloon for the life of him and I really felt for him because I can’t blow balloons myself.  It was funny to see the kids freaking out to the noise of balloons popping under their butts.

Another notable event was kids forming a triangle and kid at the top would  carry a ball and stick (similar to ball and chain) to hit a target with it.   Whoever was in charge of the events this year sure were creative.

I really like the sports festival because odds are I will see former staff and graduated students show up to see their siblings or just for fun.  They really came in numbers this year around.  Most notably, I ran into Manami and Ayu, a couple of my favorite students from my favorite class that had graduated two years ago.  I would occasionally bump into them at the train station hub but we were always going somewhere so the most we could do was smile and wave, maybe some slight chit chat.  Those two haven’t changed at all.  Manami is still bright and polite as ever, happily making conversation with me and even occasionally throwing in some English words here and there.  Ayu looks really mature and grown up but still acts the same around Manami.  Whenever I would say something in English, Ayu would just elbow Manami and say “Hey, translate, translate!”  It reminded me of the times we would chat in between classes.  Ahh, memories.

I told them that this would be my last year watching this and they both were surprised.  “Wow, I guess you have been here for almost five years…” Manami reflected.  I still can’t believe it myself.  To think when I came, they were still barely out of elementary school and now they’ll be graduating high school in a year.  We made sure to talk a lot throughout the event, something I was glad to do at least one more time.

We even got a picture as a commemoration!

We even got a picture as a commemoration!

Those two were not the only former students I ran into.  Another big surprise was running into JoKo, a boy I haven’t seen in nearly three years.  He seemed a lot more mellow and mature compared to his crazy days in junior high, which threw me off.  We chatted for a bit and he complimented me on how far I have gone in my Japanese (a terrible lie, but thanks anyway).

I'm glad I got to see him one more time at least.  He was one of my faves.

I’m glad I got to see him one more time at least.  He was one of my faves.

Others included the nerdy group that consists of Ootsuka, Taisei, aka Question Man and a few others. We were nerding out on games they were playing on their phones.  I don’t have many nerds now in my school and I get lonely when I can’t talk anyone about games 😦

I saw Kaho once again as well as my former vice principal.  Those two are always together in this event, it’s almost like a father and daughter relationship, it’s kind of cute.  She’s polite as always, I can’t believe she’s graduating high school in March!  I even saw Sakura and Moe, a couple of students that were in my first fifth grade class in this school!  I was really close with them, it’s funny how much my relationship has changed with the remaining kids, aka the current third-years (we’re more professional with each other these days) but seeing them again brought me back to 2011.

Besides seeing a lot of my former students, I hung out and cheered on my current ones.  They were all too eager for me to take photos of them.

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This year I was actually involved in an event–the three-legged racing against the PTA!  I was paired up with Takahashi-sensei.  At first we were going to go pretty fast and we kept practicing our rhythm right before the race started.  However, halfway through we realized that running was extremely hard and when he almost fell, we decided to slow it down.  We lost, but that’s okay  because we aren’t supposed to beat the PTA anyways 😛

I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the festivals and parties that I had throughout the years around this time with this school.  I remember how crazy my first party with this school was.  Bit by bit, old teachers transferred out and new ones replaced them.  Eventually the parties themselves became very mellow but that’s okay, I’ve become mellow myself.

Everything came to a perfect circle when I realized my final sports festival after party occurred in the same place where it all began.  Who would’ve thought how much has changed within the past five years?

Well, I shouldn’t get too reflective yet.  We still got 9 months to go!

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